Vitamin Supplements: Functions and Importance
Vitamins are essential for healthy growth, metabolism, and good health. They are responsible for metabolizing other nutrients in order to give energy and initiate reactions within the body. You can find them in vegetables, fruits, and other foods, but they may be missing for a variety of reasons. To prevent deficiencies, the USDA recommends that there be no more than a minimum amount of vitamins.
There are two types of vitamins. They are classified according to how easily they dissolve. The fat-soluble vitamins A, E and D are able to be stored in the body. They are rich in carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Water soluble vitamins also contain nitrogen and sometimes sulfur. Vitamin C or ascorbic acids and vitamins of the B-group include vitamin C, vitamin C or vitamin A2, vitamin B1, vitamin riboflavin and vitamin b2, vitamin niacin and vitamin BB3, vitamin niacin and vitamin BP5, vitamin pyridoxine and vitamin B6, vitamin BD7, vitamin B7 and folate/folic or vitamin BM9 and vitamin BR12. They are not stored in the body.
To understand the role and functions of vitamin supplements, it is important to be familiar with the many functions of vitamins as well as the effects of deficiency. Vitamins are essential for nutrients to be absorbed, digested, and converted into energy. Vitamins aid in metabolizing nutrients and producing antibodies that can be used to boost immunity and fight off diseases. Vitamins are essential for cell growth, strengthening, and binding of cells. They also form blood cells, bones, and genetic material. Each vitamin has a different role.
Vitamin A is vital for vision, immunity, bone health, cell growth, immune system, and body linings. Vitamins from the B complex are needed for many body functions. Folate/folic acids are essential for all stages of life. It is responsible for the production of DNA, RNA, and protein. Vitamin C is essential for the maintenance of healthy tissues, bones, blood vessels, skin, and immunity. Vitamin D regulates calcium levels and helps to prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and other immune diseases. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and regulation of its excretion rate. Vitamin E has protective functions. It stops tissue damage from free radicals and protects intracellular cells. Vitamin E reduces jaundice, liver diseases and neutralizes long-term antibiotic use. Vitamin K is responsible to metabolism and blood clotting.
Vitamin deficiencies can have serious consequences. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, a slow growth of the bones, and problems with the skin and digestive tract. Vitamin B1 deficiencies can cause leg cramps, muscle weakness, irritability, and digestive problems. Lack of vitamin B2 can cause mouth ulcers, inflammation, low blood counts, weakness, dandruff, and other symptoms. Lack of vitamin B3 can cause pellagra. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can lead to skin problems, mental confusion, and lower immunity. Vitamin B5 is an antioxidant that is required for growth, reproduction, and bodily processes. A lack of it can lead to depression and heart problems. Pernicious anemia is caused by insufficient vitamin B12, and scurvy or rickets are symptoms of a deficiency of vitamins C andD. Vitamin E deficiencies can cause weakness, vision problems, and loss of muscle mass. Vitamin K deficiency can also cause bruising and bleeding.
It is important to recognize the situations where one or more of these essential vitamins may be lacking. Research has shown that the majority of adults are deficient or insufficient in vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid. A macrobiotic diet or weight loss program can often lead to a less balanced diet. Multivitamins might not provide the daily recommended allowance (RDA), of vitamins D or E. These should be taken separately. Physically strenuous activities can also deplete nutrient levels.
A variety of factors make some people more susceptible to dietary deficiencies. These include people who live alone, post-menopausal women, and the elderly. These people eat less milk and are more likely to be exposed to the sun. People over 60, especially vegetarians, can suffer from digestive disorders that prevent them from getting enough vitamin B12. Some medications can also prevent vitamin B12 from being absorbed from food. Vitamin B6 deficiencies are more common in older adults, especially if their diet is poor or has been restricted for a prolonged time. Because alcohol can cause decreased vitamin absorption, alcoholics are more at risk. Supplements are required for even a healthy diet. Vitamin C deficiency can occur in people who are allergic to vegetables and fruits. Calcium deficiency may also be a possibility if there are no milk products or conditions such as lactose intolerance.
Vitamin deficiencies can cause multiple health problems so it is important to ensure that all vitamins are included in your diet. The Food and Nutrition Board of National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council have established the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for vitamins. This is the daily average nutrient intake that meets the nutritional needs of most healthy (97% to 98%) individuals, based on gender and age. Supplements are recommended to replace nutrients that may be lacking in the diet.
Folic acid, the supplemental folate form, is 400mcg daily. However it can be missing in balanced diets. Folic acid is especially important in pregnancy because it can cause birth defects if there is a deficiency. It is often added to bread, pasta, and cereals. Beta carotene supplements increase white blood cells, boost immunity, and protect against cancer. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can be caused by many things, but anyone can take synthetic vitamin B12 from fortified foods and vitamins supplements. Vitamin B complex supplements can be used to meet the B group’s requirements. Vitamin C can be used in combination with salts in food additives or in other forms. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, so vitamin C and vitamin D are often used together as a supplement. Each day, 400 IU vitamin D and 1200mg of calcium are needed. Vitamin D is required to maintain healthy levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in the body. Supplements are also given to strengthen bones and prevent fractures. Vitamin K supplements improve post-menopausal bone loss. Vitamin E isn’t often found in our diets, but it is essential for antioxidants and prevention of arteriosclerosis. As a supplement, a combination of zinc and antioxidants is used to prevent macular degeneration.
The highest quality vitamin supplement is one that contains 100% of the daily value for all vitamins. You should verify the daily value of the supplement facts level as well as the amount per portion and the serving size. Because liquid supplements do not need to go through a digestion process, they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. They are also easy to swallow and don’t cause stomach irritation.
Except for soy protein, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not endorse or regulate supplements used to treat. Vitamin supplements are food products, not drugs. Because supplements can have different effects on people, it is important to take precautions. First, you should only take them under the supervision of a doctor. You should not take them with prescription medication for any diseases as they could cause serious side effects. It is important to remember that high doses of the supplement can cause toxic effects, so it is best not to exceed the RDA. The manufacturer’s reputation should be verified, as well as the ingredients.
Vitamin supplements work best when taken with food. This does not mean that you have to eat a whole meal. Even a few bites will suffice. You can get better absorption and less excretion if you take large quantities of vitamin supplements.
Vitamin supplements can be a cost-effective and easy way to address dietary deficiencies. Vitamin supplements are proven to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin supplements are antioxidants and can neutralize harmful free radical effects. They are also required to aid digestion, improve mental and cognitive function, and boost immunity. Vitamin supplements may be helpful in treating certain diseases and conditions, such as osteoporosis. Vitamin supplements should not be considered as a substitute for a healthy diet.